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Agriculture News

Reducing Nutrient Losses From Cropland in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin: Cost Efficiency and Regional Distribution

USDA | Posted on October 1, 2018

Every summer, a “hypoxic zone” in the Gulf of Mexico (dissolved oxygen too low for many aquatic species to survive) is fueled by nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) runoff from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB), most of which comes from agriculture. This report assesses the most cost-effective way of achieving a 45-percent reduction in cropland nutrient loads to the Gulf. While the largest baseline contributors to nitrogen deliveries to the Gulf are the Ohio and Upper Mississippi Basins, with more than 60 percent of baseline nitrogen loadings, the Lower Mississippi accounts for more than 43 percent of N and P load reductions to the Gulf under a cost-effective strategy for hypoxia control. Costs per unit of nutrient reduction are lower here than in other regions, in part because of proximity to the Gulf and less opportunity for instream removals of N and P as nutrients flow to the Gulf.

Tillage Intensity and Conservation Cropping in the United States

USDA | Posted on October 1, 2018

Reducing tillage and increasing soil cover (through crop rotations and cover crops) can enhance soil health. To gauge the intensity of tillage over time, this report estimates the number of years no-till or strip-till are used over a 4-year period. Conservation tillage was used on 70 percent of soybean (2012), 65 percent of corn (2016), and 67 percent of wheat (2017) acres.

Virulent Newcastle Disease confirmed at live bird market in California

Farm and Dairy | Posted on October 1, 2018

United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed three additional cases of virulent Newcastle disease in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, California.

Study examines ag retailer challenges with cover crops

Delta Farm Press | Posted on September 27, 2018

A study conducted by Datu Research, LLC., finds that 89% of agricultural retailers have offered cover crop products and services in the past two years, and 94% say they want to expand these offerings in the future.  Farmers plant cover crops to keep the soil anchored between growing seasons, reaping benefits in soil erosion, fertility, water retention, weed and pest control, and biodiversity. While the practice is growing in popularity, cover crop acreage in the United States remains low. These products and services account for less than 5% of total revenue, the study found. Many respondents described mutually reinforcing challenges:a lack of customer demand,insufficient evidence of cover crop benefits in their region, and “uncertain or negative profitability.” 

Land O'Lakes Conservation Tool

DTN | Posted on September 27, 2018

To help farmers look at various stewardship practices and the effects on their lands, Minneapolis-based farmer cooperative Land O'Lakes on Monday rolled out a new software program called the Truterra Insights Engine. Jason Weller, sustainability director for Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN program, said he saw a lot of shared goals between agricultural retailers and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service when he served as the agency's chief. The goals centered on sharing long-term economic success with farmers, he said. Still, Weller added, there was also some disconnect between NRCS and retailers, or agronomy advisers."More often, they were ships passing in the night and not on the same page in terms of recommendations, certainly with technology, but it just starts foundationally with what is the best way to start a conversation with a farmer about adopting additional conservation on their operation," Weller said.

New grant money available to boost Pennsylvania dairy industry

Your Erie | Posted on September 27, 2018

Low milk costs mean tough times for dairy farmers across the Commonwealth, leaving many with no choice but to shut down. At one time, Erie County was home to dozens of dairy farms; that's no longer the case. Farmers say the business as a whole is to blame, but they tell us policy changes and support from the state could be a turning point. After more than 80 years in business, the barns at Curtis Dairy are now empty.  You can see in the video what the facility looked like just a few months ago, housing more than 300 cows.Dean Curtis tells us, "It hurts when I think of all the years that I put in here and to see it go away. You know, it's hard." Curtis says there just isn't money in the industry anymore, and he says the problem comes down to the cost of milk. "You look back in history; in the 80's, we were getting more money back in the 80's than we are now for a hundred of milk." It's a dilemma forcing farms across the Commonwealth to shut down. That's why Governor Tom Wolf approved $5 million dispersed among eligible applicants. The money is part of the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program.

US Attorney Sues West Virginia Hemp Farm Over Seeds' Origin

US News and World Report | Posted on September 26, 2018

A U.S. attorney is suing a West Virginia hemp farm and others, saying they violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart has sued Matthew Mallory of CAMO Hemp WV, and Gary Kale of Grassy Run Farms. Grassy Run Farms owns the land, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Saturday.The lawsuit charges the farmers with manufacturing, cultivation, possession, and intent to distribute marijuana and not hemp. Hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis sativa plant, but by state law hemp must be comprised of less than 1 percent THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.The complaint says the farmers purchased their hemp seeds in Kentucky and brought them over the West Virginia state line. A state pilot program only allows hemp producers to obtain seeds internationally, via the state Department of Agriculture, the lawsuit said.The complaint also said the defendants indicated they would install security measures around the farm. However, that allegedly hasn't happened.If Stuart prevails in the lawsuit, the farmers' plants, property, equipment and seeds could all be seized and forfeited to the government. His complaint says the federal government could receive either $250,000 in civil penalties or twice the sum of the defendants' gross receipts.The farmers' attorneys argue the Agricultural Act of 2014 protects their right to grow hemp under state laws. Also, the Farm Bill and related provisions of a federal appropriations bill together state that no congressional appropriated funds can prevent the transportation, processing or sale of hemp under a state program authorized under the federal legislation.

Could intensive agriculture be better for the environment than organic eco-farming?

Eastern Daily Press | Posted on September 26, 2018

A new study, led by scientists from the University of Cambridge, says focusing resources to generate higher yields from smaller areas might be the “least bad” option to meet rising demand for food – as long as it allows more natural habitats to be “spared the plough”. Agriculture which appears to be more eco-friendly, but uses more land, may actually have greater environmental costs per unit of food than high-yield farming, said researchers.The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, suggests that – contrary to perceptions – intensive agriculture which uses less land may also produce fewer pollutants, cause less soil erosion and consume less water.“Agriculture is the most significant cause of biodiversity loss on the planet,” said study lead author Andrew Balmford, professor of conservation science from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology. “Habitats are continuing to be cleared to make way for farmland, leaving ever less space for wildlife.

The world's first floating dairy farm will house 40 cows and be hurricane-resistant

Business Insider | Posted on September 26, 2018

The Dutch company Beladon is opening the world's first floating dairy farm in the Netherlands. Located in Rotterdam, the farm will house 40 cows in a high-tech facility on the water.Minke van Wingerden, one of the project's leaders, told Business Insider that the farm will produce an average of 211 gallons of milk each day.Most of the cows' food will come from city waste products, such as grains left over from local breweries and by-products from mills.Beladon is also interested in launching floating chicken farms and floating vertical farming greenhouse


Walmart, Sam's Club to put food products on blockchain

Reuters | Posted on September 26, 2018

Walmart and its unit Sam’s Club said on Monday leafy greens suppliers will be asked to implement real-time, farm-to-store tracking using blockchain technology by next September, as the retailer tackles food-safety incidents. Walmart is among several other retailers such as Nestle SA trying to tap blockchain, a shared record of data kept by a network of computers to track food supply chain and improve safety.Walmart said on Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has consulted with the company to improve traceability of food products to help public officials investigate and find the source of food-borne disease outbreaks.